Children’s Story – When the Bandit Chief Paid a Debt

Way back in the hill country of China, many days’ journey from the coast, lived Dr. Walter Judd, a young American physician who had gone to China in search of an opportunity to use his education and his skill. He had been assigned to the hospital in Shawou.

When he first went to Shawou, there was a Christian Mission in the city, and several missionaries were already at work. Then the bandits came sweeping through valleys, and the missionaries were ordered by the government to leave their homes and their work and go to the coast, where they could be protected.

Since Dr. Judd did not have a family, he told the other missionaries he would stay in Shawou and try to protect the Mission property. He felt that he was needed among the native Christians. So he was left behind.

The bandits soon came swarming into Shawou. They looted the village and the Mission Station. Being an American citizen, Dr. Judd was apparently free, but he knew that he was continually being watched and that he would pay with his life for any trouble he might cause.

The head of the bandits in that region was Chief Lu Hsin-Ming, a very cruel and wicked man. He was ignorant and degraded. Human life to him meant nothing at all. By his brute force he held his company of nearly a thousand men. Every day they looted and made the life of the residents of Shawou miserable.

One day Lu Hsin-Ming was taken violently ill. He took Chinese medicine, and it did him no good. He grew steadily worse. At last he came to the hospital to be cared for by Dr. Judd, and in a little while he was well again. While he was ill, he had a good chance to watch the young doctor and to feel his kindness and his skill. He saw that he was brave and unselfish, and he admired him.

On New Year’s Day, a man came secretly to him from the bandit camp, saying, “I must tell you something, Doctor. The army of the Nationalists is only 20 miles away, and we must flee to the hills. We are going tonight, for I heard the men talking about it. They are going to take you. They will take many of the women also, and then they will demand ransom. They plan to loot the city again before they go. You are too ill to go. I told you because you have been kind to us.”

Dr. Judd thanked him, but there was nothing he could do. Slowly the time went by and evening came.

About seven o’clock, Lu Hsin-Ming himself came to the dispensary. He sat down, and Dr. Judd waited for the order to go. Instead the bandit chief said: “Dr. Judd, we are leaving town tonight. I was going to take you along, as you have probably guessed. I am not going to take you. You have been fair with us. You have willingly and faithfully cared for my men and me. You are not doing it for money. I do not really know why you do it. You have been sick, and if you had to live as we shall have to do, you would soon die. You can do good work, so I am not going to take you.” The men shook hands, and Lu Hsin-Ming went out to command the retreat.

That night, after all the stores were tightly closed, Lu Hsin-Ming gave the order to march. Not a shop was looted; not a woman was taken along. Lu Hsin-Ming was repaying fairness and kindness with fairness and kindness, and Dr. Judd’s life was safe.